Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Important Sociological Experiment...

I am conducting an important sociological experiment here. Both men and women can participate. Don't think too hard about this, your answer should be on a visceral level. My first question in my experiment is -- purely on a gut level -- which arms do men think are more attractive in this picture, and which ones do the women think are more attractive. My second question is, can anyone identify these arms. Now, one of them is fairly obvious, but the others are not so obvious.

In a recent interview, January Jones, who plays Betty Draper on Mad Men, said the producers of the show told the women who play the lead roles not to go to the gym and work out. The producers said, "We don't want to see any biceps, because women of that era didn't have biceps." January Jones said, "Believe me, that won't be a problem." Why are girls and women in today's era held to such impossible standards? Women were created to have curves -- hips, breasts, thighs, even stomachs. Nature built women to have a natural amount of adipose tissue on their bodies, but they battle it constantly.

"A piece of chocolate? Oh, no, I can't -- I'm being good."

I think a lot of women have actually dieted themselves fat. They have screwed up their metabolisms so much in the pursuit of perfection, that their bodies became confused. Every calorie was stored on hips, breasts, thighs, stomachs.

The female body has always been the main subject of artists, and if you look at the paintings of the masters, the women in those paintings and sculptures do not have biceps. They're round and feminine.

Okay, everyone, I would be interested to know if you recogize the owner's of those arms, and which are -- truthfully -- more attractive. My prediction is the men and women's choices will be very different.


Canarybird said...

Well I prefer the first two, and I'd guess they could be Nicole Kidman and Michelle Obama. Don't know the third but the fourth is surely Madonna whose stringy arms appeared in the news lately. I'm also in the midst of a dietitian-controlled diet, but more for health reasons than aesthetics. Love your Canajun post Jo! I still have a fistful of Canadian Tire money left over from my last visit over there lol!
Cheers, Sharon.

Land of shimp said...

I'm going to chime in, but add something first because it really goes towards my opinion. I work out. I lift weights, I swim, I spend a fair amount of time on an elliptical machine. I use terms like, "working my core" and I've even employed a personal trainer. shock, I think that the arms second from left are the most attractive. The arms on the far right are Madonna's, who has just started to look freaking scary, by the way.

However, I'm not on a quest to have arms like the picture I named, or Madonna's. I just happen to feel a lot better when I'm in good shape, but I eat. I eat pretty well, but I'm not food saint, and you will never hear me talking about being "good". The reason I work out? It just makes me feel happier.

But here is how pervasive media images are: even having studied gender relations, and the rather nefarious reasons to keep women, in particular, fixated on their own exteriors, I'm susceptible to trending towards current societal standards.

The images are everywhere, and it is a slight case of being programmed to deem a specific look attractive.

I do sometimes wonder what historians will make of our current standards of beauty for women. Let's face it, there's a lot of misogyny at the core of it, and it's not just coming from men. When we, as women, buy into it, we're a part of the problem.

Yet still? I'm answering honestly. Even though intellectually I know my answer should be very different. How's that for a complex relationship between society, personal inclinations, and the expectations of conformity? It's really weird to feel myself having a response that a) isn't even something I would personally try to achieve b) is a result of the bombardment of imagery c) goes against everything I intellectually know.

Ding ding, guess I'll drool, right?

Jennifer D said...

I don't like the fourth one, Madonna. I guess My fav would be Michelle Obamas.

Alissa said...

My favorite is arm number 2, which I am going to guess belongs to Michelle Obama. I'm guessing arm number 4 belongs to Madonna. Honestly, with the exception of arm number 4 these all look like healthy, normal arms to me. I've never really spent much time noticing arms, unless they are particularly noteworthy, too stringy or too flabby.

I do get a decent amount of exercise, but spend absolutely zero hours in the gym. I'm all for the fun exercising, walking instead of driving, riding my bike, cross country skiing in the winter and walking my dog (believe me it is a workout!). So, I do have some muscle tone to my arms, but I'm hardly a weight-lifter.

I've known a lot of men who go for the whole under-nourished Katie Holmes sort of look, which is neither a muscle-bound look or a classic look, but I would be interested to see what your male readers have to say about arms, if they even notice them at all!

PhilipH said...

Arm #1 por moi, thank you; and the rest of her if at all possible.;-)

SparkleFarkle said...

I'd vote for arms no. 1 and No.3. The second arm is too, dare I say, feminine farmhandy and the fourth: un-heliumed Popeye. And I hope I don't get ousted from the countryfor saying it, but just as SHE is, Michelle Obama's arms are overrated. Seriously, those in charge of telling us what to like have focused on the only feature that we could possibly "buy" into. Jackie Kennedy she's not.


This was quite fun, Jo. Not knowing the age of each 'arm', some of that definition comes from keeping active; but also, being under 55 when a certain amount of muscle-tone is lost, and no amount of exercise will bring it back to that of one who is 25.

I also like the look of 'tanned skin', so I liked arm #2. I couldn't tell if it belonged to a person of color, or just one who'd been in the sun a lot (since I can look at pictures of me after a long summer, and see how very brown I am).

Since I don't keep up with celebrities, I'd be hard-pressed to tell if these are 'famous' arms, but sadly if that one on the far right, is of Madonna, then I'd say all of her exercise certainly hasn't paid off (and she's way too young to have arms that remind me of someone who's 75 years old).

I'm 67 years old; I checked the definition on my arms, and saw they were better toned than the one on the far right, so that's about all I can compare with.

Since I was very athletic in my first 60 years of life, I've seen the difference in the good tone I had, and the last few years, when I've been lazy.

I think it's time for me to get back to shooting some hoops, and scrubbing my floors more often...

As to those old paintings, I always was amazed at how 'fat' those women looked; how pale skinned they were, and they looked as if they never worked a day in their life.

My favorite 'body' that I have seen in the movies, is Hallie Berry (sp???); I think she's got the right 'tone', and weight, and appears to enjoy excellent health.

This was a fun experiment; I hope to check back and see what more men have to say. Diane

Jo said...

Sharon, Hi! Wasn't the Canajun thing fun? I have some Canadian Tire money too. *heh* No, the first one isn't Nicole Kidman, but the second one is Michelle Obama.

Alane, so far my experiment is working as I had predicted. Women are choosing the athletic arms. And yes, I think it is great to be active, but I personally don't care for the look of over-toned arms on women. I'm sure you don't look anything like number 4...! *heh*

JenniferD, I predicted most women would choose number two.

Alissa, yes, I knew the women would choose number 4. I'm waiting for more of the men to "weigh in", to see which they would choose. It sounds like you get just the right amount of exercise. :-)

Philip, as I predicted, men would choose one of the more feminine arms. It's an interesting experiment (well, to me, anyway...) *heh*

SparkleFarkle, I completely agree with you 100%. Over-rated in every way. But ... that is a blog post for another day. :-)

Diane, yes, our standards of beauty have definitely changed over the decades. Some of the women in those old paintings were probably not excessively healthy. I do think there is difference, though between being "toned" and "muscle-bound". But again, men and women look at it from a difference perspective, don't they?

A.M. said...

Arm number 1 I like the best.

#2 is Michelle Obama

#4 is Madonna.

1&3 ???

Land of shimp said...

Jo, I called my husband in to get his opinion.

"Hey honey, come in here and participate in an experiment, please!"

"That sounds potentially perilous, but okay..."

Good man, without being told about the men choose/women choose aspect, he selected 1 and 3. In response to 4? "Really? That's a woman?"

AcuityTodos said...

#1 first, #4 last - ugh! A male perspective. #2 - it is an arm, that's all. And who is #1?

robert said...

Good morning Jo,
what an interesting entry of yours once again. Am able to say that the fourth one belongs to Madonna - about the other ones, without reading the other comments, wouldn't have been able to name their owners.
To be honest never really put much weight onto arms, espec. women ones, as I like to look at there feet much more.

Russell said...

Okay. I will give you this man's opinion at least! No question - Arm #3 is the winner in my book! No question. I would then go with Arm #1. Arm 2 is my third choice and Arm 4, well, a distant fourth.

I will be honest, I don't think men pay too much attention to women's arms. I guess it is like any thing else, unless something is really unusual, well... Men have a tendency of focusing on other parts of a woman's body, to be extremely honest. HOWEVER, I will say that I personally consider the whole package and how it all goes together -- not just this part or that part.

As I get older, I am not overly attracted to the physical features of a woman -- and I know you will think I am lying but I am not. I am more interested in the person overall.

I had a friend once who was really into, of all things, women's feet. He would get aroused by feet and ankles - and that was incredibily weird in my book. I always made sure to wear shoes and socks around that nutty guy!! Heh!

Leslie: said...

Okay, without reading the other comments, I have NO idea whose arms these are, but I would LOVE to have the arms at the far left. To me, they look feminine, slim, and without any muscular look to them.

Patty said...

Myself, I like the first arm. Have no idea who they belong to, but would think the fourth one is Madonna's, and not attractive at all.

jackc50 said...

i guess i like number 3. it just has a nice shape to it......thats all. the female form is definitely more......alluring? always has been, always will. see ya round, jack c

Anonymous said...

#1 and 3 are my favorite. They remind me of my own arms. I want to be healthy, not muscular. I like this experiment.

Lorna said...

I definitely prefer the arms of the woman in the emerald green dress.


SweetPeaSurry said...

I prefer the third one, as it's womanly. The second is Michelle Obama and the fourth I believe is Madge (aka Madonna).

Jo said...

A.M., I'll tell you at work tomorrow whose arms they are. :-) And yes, I prefer #1 and #3 too.

Alane, LOL...! I love it. And you see? Your husband picked numbers 1 and 3, just as I predicted. Wow!

Acuity Todos, you picked as I predicted a man would predict too. I will reveal who the arms belong to, at the end of my experiement. Thanks for participating. :-)

Robert, well, that's very interesting. That's an angle I didn't predict. *heh*

Russell, you chose exactly as I would predict a man to choose. And, I think it's very nice that you are attracted to the overall person. Every woman would certainly appreciate that, let me tell you...!

Leslie, yes, #1 and #3 are definitely the more feminine arms, aren't they? Women don't need to be muscled up. Well ... that's my opinion, anyway. :-)

Patty, yes, #1 is very feminine, and #4 is Madonna's, and it's ghastly! Why did she do that to herself!?

Jackc50, yes #3 is, to me, the most feminine of all of the arms. I don't understand why women think they need to "bulk" their arms up.

Cat, good for you! You picked the feminine arms.

Lorna, gosh, men and women seem to be chosing exactly as I predicted.

SweetPeaSurry, yes, I think #3 is womanly too. I think everyone will agree, when they find out whose it is. :-)

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

On behalf of all grey squirrels, we vote for arm No: 1. with arm No:3 next and Arm No:4 least. Thus is the opinion of male squirrels.

However, I have to agree with Russell though, that men are not too pre-occupied by women's arms. That in itself will be rather low on the list. Hence, I couldn't guess whose arms those are at all.

I look forward to read the results of this important sociological experiment.

Paula Slade said...

# 1 and # 2 for me. As far as who the arms belong to - I haven't got a clue. I will however venture a guess on # 4 - Madonna?

Jo said...

LGS, aha...! Just as I prediced all squirrels -- and men -- would choose, numbers 1 and 3. Men and women really are different...! Who knew! :-)

Paula, Hmmm... Numbers 1 and 2. Now that is different. And yes, number 4 is Madonna. Why did she do that to herself?

Charles Gramlich said...

Arm 1, from the left, definitely for me.

Jo said...

Charles, as predicted -- a man's choice. :-)

Firefly said...

For me No 4 is out. No no no no no. Too skinny. I like No's 2 and 3. My jury is still out on No 1.

PhilipH said...

Jo, Please let me know when you want comments on 'other parts' of the female form.

Arms, yes - they're OK, but legs might be more interesting.

Other features? Can't think of any at the moment.

Oh wait! Yes, Bristols* and Cheeks (non facial cheeks), could provide some interesting sociological feedback?

*Bristols: cockney rhyming slang, Bristol City. Have a guess.

Anonymous said...

I prefer the first one...on the left. And without the comments of the others here...I would have no idea who any of them are.

lovelyprism said...

I prefer #1. Even when women work out and have muscles, I believe they should only be seen when you are actually moving. The movement shows the muscle. The rest of the time I think women should look soft and all curvy, not angular. Thin and soft is good, Madonna is grotesque.

pranksygang said...

my favorite is the 1st one!

Marguerite said...

The first two are my favorites, but tend to think that #2 has an edge on #1. No idea about whose arms they are. I like toned, muscular bodies on both women and men. Such an interesting, fun post!